Bicycle Thieves



Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola in Vittorio di Sica's 1948 Bicycle Thieves


For our final film of 2016 I’m really pleased to be showing what has regularly polled as one of the greatest films of all time – Vittorio de Sica’s 1948 classic Ladri di Bicilette, or Bicycle Thieves.  The film was a key part of the Italian neorealism movement and things didn’t get much more real than this study of poverty in postwar Rome.  Indeed all of the film was shot on location, no studio sets were used and the cast were untrained non actors (Lamberto Maggiorani was a factory worker).  De Sica wanted to portray the poverty and unemployment of post war Italy and was unable to attract any financial backing from any major studio so eventually funded the film himself with the help of friends.

Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) is a poor man who is thrilled when he is at last offered a job: delivering and putting up movie posters. But he needs a bicycle, and must supply his own, so his wife Maria (Lianella Carelli) pawns the family’s entire stock of bed linen to redeem the bicycle he had already hocked. On his first day his bike is stolen and Antonio drops everything to go on a desperate odyssey through the streets of Rome with his little boy Bruno (Enzo Staiola) to get it back, pleading and accusing and uncovering scenes of poverty similar to theirs wherever they go. Faces always gather around the pair, commenting, complaining and magnifying the couples’ distress.

Antonio seems unable or unwilling to embrace the obvious redemptive moral – that his son is the important possession, not the bicycle but perhaps because this moral is a luxury that only rich people can afford. The father remains obsessed with finding a stolen needle in the urban haystack, obsessed with getting his job back.  The result is a brutal authentic portrayal of poverty and a brilliant work of art.  Despite this being filmed in 1948 in post war Italy there are worrying and unsettling parallels to the desperate situation that many find themselves in today, both in Italy and closer to home.

I hope you will join us for a slice of cinema history.


Date: Monday 14 November at 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Cost: £6 in advance (tickets can be bought via the Eventbrite link opposite)

Cycling Shorts


Ever since I set up the Leeds Bicycle Film Club it was always my intention to show a selection of short films as there is an amazing array of really creative and interesting short films out there.  The issue was working out how I was going to have the time to chase down all the permissions in order to curate an interesting evening.  Luckily Laura who knows everything about putting on films and as been invaluable in helping me was also interested and so as part of this years Yorkshire Festival we teamed up to do a cycle social evening which featured a documentary and a selection of shorts that I curated and Laura helped to get the permissions.

So I’ve now got a cracking evening of short films to put on.  There are 12 films, none longer that about 6 minutes and featuring all different types of film making from music video to Oscar winning animation, politics to humour to mock horror and featuring all different types of bikes and riding from lots of different countries.

As an added bonus a local cyclist and Super 8 film maker will be joining us to show us his short film as well as having a chat and answering questions on the film making process and the work that goes into making a short film.

So stick your cycling shorts on and come and see mine !

Date: Monday 17 October at 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Cost: £5 in advance (tickets can be bought via the Eventbrite link opposite)


For The Love of Mud

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For our September film we are delving into the muddy world of cyclocross.  Who cannot remember the pure unadulterated joy of riding through a muddy puddle as a child, whooping with joy as mud splattered your face?  Well the cyclocross world has taken this feeling and bottled it riding laps of muddy fields during the winter, although there seems to be quite a bit a pain involved to me as it’s searingly tough.

For The Love Of Mud explores this world in all it’s forms from the tens of thousands who flock to the superprestige races in Belgium where the likes of Sven Nys are superstars to the northern British fields where happy amateurs do battle. The genre originally started so that road riders could continue to keep fit and race over the winter in the off season but has now developed into a fast growing sport loved by racers and fans alike.

Benedict Campbell spent two years making the Love of Mud providing a beautiful history and narrative on the “religion” of cyclocross.

Date: Monday 19 July at 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Cost: £6 in advance (tickets can be bought via the eventbrite link opposite)

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Slaying the Badger


With the Tour de France upon us this months film looks back at a classic rivalry from the 1986 tour.  Cycling, like most sports, loves a classic rivalry but nothing spikes that rivalry more than when the riders are on the same team as was the case with Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault.  The story goes that Greg agreed to help Hinault win the 1985 tour to become a record equalling 5 times tour winner but the deal was that it would be reciprocated the following year with Hinault helping Lemond.  However was Hinault really going to pass up the chance to try and be the record tour winner?

Hinault aka the Badger was known for his ruthless streak and he brilliantly describes how he did not renege on the deal saying that he would help Lemond win but he didn’t have to make it easy.  The documentary is not just the story of a sporting rivalry but rather two conflicting stories of the same event.  Lemond’s people have one version Hinaults’s another which, even though we may know the outcome of the race, adds intrigue and colour to the stories of the two great riders and rivals.

One lesson is clear.  Don’t mess with the Badger


Date: 18 July at 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Cost: £4 in advance (tickets can be bought via the eventbrite link opposite) – all profits from this screening will be going to charity.